Independence and oil revenue discussed in President Barzani’s visit to Turkey
A senior Kurdish delegation led by Kurdistan Regional President Massoud Barzani paid a visit to Turkey on 14 July, 2014, aiming to discuss independence and, the KRG’s financial crisis and the share of Kurdish oil revenue.
In his visit which was described as a critical and surprise one, Barzani met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the President of Turkey Abdullah Gul and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu in Ankara.
The visit came almost after ten months from his historic visit to Diyarbakir to enhance the ongoing peace process between the Turkish government and the Kurdish population in the country.
President Barzani’s agenda covered the possibility of an independent state in northern Iraq, the political atmosphere in the country, Kurdistan and Kirkuk’s oil in addition to the ongoing peace process in Turkey.
His visit came after Barzani asked the Kurdistan Parliament to prepare the ground for holding two referendums as soon as possible. The first one to annex the long-disputed territories to the KRG administration, and the second one to announce independence and separate from Iraq.
Turkey has not so far officially announced support for the Kurdish call for independence, but several Turkish officials indirectly said that the neighboring Turkey would not reject a new country as Iraq is mired in violence and sectarian strife.
Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said Turkey does not want to see Iraq break up, without clearly stating opposition to a Kurdish state in Iraq, Turkish media reported.
The Turks might prefer a stable and oil-rich Kurdish state rather than an instable, violent and non-democratic Iraq. The Turks have come to a point that the Kurds in Iraq are not a factor of threat over the Turkish unity and provoking the Kurds in the country.
However, President Barzani, whose party gained the first place amongst the Kurdish parties in the last April elections, told Germany’s Die Welt newspaper, that: “he does not look ahead to receive help or resistance from Turkey with regard to independence.”
“The Turks discussed with Barzani a mechanism to avoid incidents that could inflame ethnic and sectarian strife in Iraq and that the political efforts to preserve the integrity of the country should be supported,” wrote Turkish well-known author Cengiz Candar, a journalist since 1976, he is the author of seven books in the Turkish language, mainly on Middle East issues.
Approaching the upcoming Turkish presidential elections and the ongoing peace process made it imperative to the Turkish officials not to say anything to make the Kurdish leader, Barzani, upset. PM Erdogan might need his influence in the elections to collect more votes in the elections.
The Kurdish president and his family have long been known as a national family and struggled hard to be able to announce a Kurdish state.
“Kurdish politics is based on two courses of actions. The first is working with the national forces to rebuild Iraq, and the second is exercising the right of self-determination if efforts to save Iraq fail,” President Barzani told AlMonitor on July 10.
The KRG could not withdraw its share of the oil revenue because Turkey has been waiting for a solution between the KRG and the federal government on how to divide the revenues. .
PM Barzani prepared the ground
Earlier, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani visited Turkey’s PM Erdogan Dolmabahce office to prepare the ground for the President Barzani’s visit.
The two Prime Ministers talked about escalating violence in Iraq as well as enhancing bilateral economic relations.
The Kurdish and Turkish Premiers emphasized on an emergency initiative to restore stability and security in the chaotic Iraq.
They also discussed providing humanitarian aid to the refugees taking shelter in Kurdistan, in particular Turkmen, and energy cooperation too.
The Kurdish media outlets reported that the KRG’s delegation visited neighboring Turkey to collect the oil revenue, what the Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz denied.
The Turkish minister stated that the two sides are trying to open a “permanent bank account and a sustainable business” with the Kurdistan Region.
According to Turkish media outlets, the oil revenue of the first Kurdish oil cargo that was $93 million deposited in the Turkish Halkbank last month. The Kurdish oil loaded on a huge cargo ship in the Mediterranean.
The KRG’s Minister of Finance Rebaz Mohammed, who accompanied PM Barzani to Turkey, said that one of the main purposes of the visit was to ensure transferring the account to Kurdistan’s central bank.
Yildiz said that it was not in his government’s agenda to think of splitting the KRG’s oil share. He announced that the Turkish government has been working on arrangements relating to the rights of both Erbil and Baghdad.